Arequipa continues to thrive, as it has for centuries, as the center of Peru’s wool industry. Wools and fine clothing shops are all over town and, for the real aficionados, the main wool producers can arrange visits to factories and highland ranches with alpacas and vicuñas. Apart from alpaca goods, the city produces high-quality jewelry and chocolates.
Across the street from the Monasterio de Santa Catalina is the newly remodeled Casona Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina 210, tel. 054/28-1334, www.santacatalina-sa.com.pe, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily). Once a colonial house, this building now houses a variety of upscale shops, a restaurant, an Internet café, and even an Iperú office. If you are looking to buy alpaca, chocolate, or pisco, this could be your one-stop shopping.
Patio de Ekeko (Mercaderes 141, tel. 054/21-5861, www.patiodelekeko.com, 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Sun.) is a touristy complex near the square. Its multiple floors are filled with classy crafts, alpaca shops, a high-end jewelry store, an Internet café, a restaurant, and even a big-screen cinema showing documentaries on Arequipa.
Millma’s Baby Alpaca (Pasaje Catedral 117, tel. 054/20-5134, millmas [at] hotmail [dot] com, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily) is one of the nicer shops in a narrow pedestrian street behind the cathedral, with a wide selection of men’s and women’s sweaters (US$40–120), coats, and scarves.
Michell & Cia is the world’s leading producer and exporter of alpaca fiber. The company started in 1931 and now it has a top-end outlet chain named Sol Alpaca (Alameda San Lázaro 101, tel. 054/20-2525, www.michell.com.pe, 9:30 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2:30–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Sat.) with stores in Cusco, Lima, and Santiago de Chile. Sweaters, scarves, coats and even carpets are sold, with people on hand to demonstrate the hand sorting of alpaca fiber and loom weaving. A tour of the factory, located in Parque Industrial, can be arranged here at the shop.
Grupo Inca (Miguel Forga 348, Parque Industrial, tel. 054/22-9998, www.grupoinca.com, 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and 2:30–6 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) groups a series of companies that also produce and export alpaca fiber.
Inca Tops (sales [at] incatops [dot] com) sells world-class tops and yarns of alpaca wool and cotton.
Incalpaca TPX (Condor 100, Tahuaycani neighborhood, tel. 054/60-3000, www.incalpaca.com, 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.), on the other hand, produces the finest cloth, outerwear, knitwear, and home items. It is the only company in Peru licensed to sell vicuña wool, which costs US$600 a kilogram. It has shops named Kuna in Patio del Ekeko, Casona Santa Catalina, and at Libertador Hotel.
Alpaka Studio (Claustros de la Compañía, store 17, tel. 054/20-2486, www.prosur.com.pe, 9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 3:30–7:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), whose collections feature city and outdoor clothing.
Organic products are also available at Colca Trading Company (Santa Catalina 300-B, tel. 054/24-2088, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), including cotton garments, organic alpaca sweaters, silver jewelry, rugs, and scarves.
Jewelry and Antiques
For jewelry, Aqlla (Pasaje Catedral 112, tel. 054/20-5088, 9 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily) is a stylish shop and showroom of handmade silver jewelry. It also has artistic and modern scarves, sweaters, wool coats, and ceramics.
L. Paulet (General Morán 118, Claustros de la Compañía, tel. 054/28-7786, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3:30–8 p.m. daily) specializes in gold and silver handmade jewelry, as well as handknit and handwoven baby alpaca textiles.
There are several antiques shops clustered on Santa Catalina. Antiguedades y Objetos de Arte (Santa Catalina 406, tel. 054/22-9103, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–8 p.m. daily), El Anticuario (Santa Catalina 300, tel. 054/23-4474, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–7 p.m. daily), and Arte Colonial (Santa Catalina 312, tel. 054/21-4887, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily) all sell everything from small crafts to antique furniture.
A wide range of inexpensive crafts can be found at the Fundo de Fierro handicraft market, on the corner of the Plaza San Francisco.
La Ibérica, (Jerusalén 136, tel. 054/21-882, www.laiberica.com.pe), Arequipa’s century-old chocolate company, produces the best bitter chocolate in the country. It has shops on Mercaderes, at the Saga Falabella Mall, and at the airport. The dark fondant bars are irresistible, and the small chewable toffees come in five flavors.
Along with Lima, Arequipa has the most bookstores in Peru, the best of which is Librería el Lector (San Francisco 221, tel. 054/28-8677, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily), with European charm. Owner Fernando Rosas has a great collection of books on Peruvian culture—including many in English—and on archaeology, politics, cooking, music, flowers, photography, and travel. The shop also has an English-language fiction section and book exchange. There are several other bookshops along San Francisco near the plaza.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition